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Rare baby ghost shark discovered by NZ scientists

NDTV – A little-known fish species that lives in shadowy depths of the ocean has been discovered by scientists in New Zealand, the BBC reported.

The newly-hatched ghost shark was spotted at a depth of 1.2 kilometres off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the BBC report further said.

Also known as chimaera, the species is rarely spotted. Scientists quoted by the BBC said that spotting of a ghost shark baby is even rarer as they hatch from eggs laid on the sea floor.

Dr Brit Finucci, a member of the team, called it a “neat find”, adding that the discovery was made by accident.

Dr Finucci, who works as a fisheries scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said that the baby ghost shark normally hatch from egg capsules laid on the sea floor.

Neonate (newly hatched) deepwater ghost shark (Hydrolagus sp). PHOTO: BRIT FINUCCI

His team members said the discovery will help them better understand the early stages of the mysterious group of deep water fish.

“Deep water species are generally hard to find, and like ghost sharks in particular, they tend to be quite cryptic,” Dr Finucci told the BBC.

She added that the fish had recently hatched as its belly was still full of egg yolk.

Marine biologists have been studying the ghost sharks for years, trying to understand their behavior and food habits. The baby ghost sharks live in very different habitats and can have different diets.

Dr Finucci said her team will take samples of tissues and random genetics to better understand the species. “We’ll do a whole bunch of morphometrics or body measurements as well,” she further told the BBC.

These are cartilaginous creatures similar to sharks and rays. The cartilaginous nature of their skeletons gives them an eerie, ethereal quality.

The ghost sharks mostly consume molluscs and worms on the ocean floor.

An adult ghost shark can be up to two metres in length and are found all around the world.

Only a handful of these fish are found in shallow coastal waters.